Top 50 K-Pop Singles of 2012: Honorable Mentions

Updated: Oct 3

I've been dreading making this list for quite some time, but now it's here!

Approaching ten years in three months, I figure I look back and rank my top 50 K-pop singles from 2012, aka a landmark moment for the genre.

2012 is regarded as the best year in K-pop, and it's easy to see why.

First and foremost, Gangnam Style.

Unless you were under a rock, virtually everyone was talking about this track. There's no need to talk more about PSY's biggest hit.

Despite its impact, this single isn't in my top 50, including the honorable mentions. Behind Gangnam Style is a year filled with amazing K-pop moments! From numerous rookies (EXO, B.A.P, Nu'est) releasing song-of-the-year-worthy tracks to established groups (Big Bang, T-ara, TVXQ!) offering thrilling singles, there's a lot to be excited about when discussing 2012 K-pop. I could've stretched this list to 80 songs!

Before I reveal my honorable mentions, let's look at a few rules:

- a song must have a music video alongside it

- a song must be promoted as a K-pop track

- a song must be released from Jan. 1, 2012 - Dec. 31, 2012

With everything I need to say out of the way, let's look at my top 50 K-pop singles of 2012, starting with the honorable mentions. Enjoy!


BoA- Only One

Not one of BoA's hard-hitting singles, but Only One flows effortlessly thanks to its glimmering production that feels timeless.


Throwing playful hooks at every turn, Hey You arrives as a fun pop rock song that will lure you in with its captivating rhythm.

Dal Shabet- Have, Don't Have

Quirky all the way through, Have, Don't Have is, nonetheless, a fun and catchy 80s-style synth-pop track. The chorus is quite pleasing, but its post-chorus brings it home!

G-Dragon- Crayon

Only a person like G-Dragon can make the exuberant Crayon sound great. Sporadic during the verses, the song brings out its best during the chorus, presenting itself as an awesome party anthem!

MBLAQ- This Is War

Not sounding like your typical pop song, This Is War goes full-on theatrical with its dramatic strings and vocal performances, bringing a masterful ambition to the table.

SMASH- I'll Protect You

After a few years of promoting in Japan, SMASH returned with the robust I'll Protect You, which would ultimately be their last but pleasing Korean single.

Supernova- She's Gone

She's Gone is an underrated dance-pop single, offering riveting verses and a potent refrain. The instrumental is gratifying, lobbing fun electronics and a prominent melody by an instrument I can't recognize. Whatever it is, it sounds great!

T-ara- Day By Day

It's rare for K-pop groups to tackle music that sounds like medieval folk. Fortunately, Day By Day shows the industry can effectively take on this sound. I mean, listen to its refrain. It's an earworm!

(For newcomers to this video, the song ends at 4:20)

Xia- Tarantallegra

The name itself is as bizarre as its musical production. Opening with an intimidating soundscape and repetitive "What music will you listen to?", Tarantallegra presents itself as daring and otherworldly. Even the autotune adds to the song's charm!

ZE:A- Aftermath

Nothing about this screams through the roof, and that's okay! Aftermath knows its worth, asserting itself as a fun, propulsive pop song offering engaging vocal melodies and a catchy sing-along chorus.

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